, Volume 210, Issue 3, pp 365–375 | Cite as

Effects of alcohol preload on attentional bias towards cocaine-related cues

  • Catharine MontgomeryEmail author
  • Matt Field
  • Amanda M. Atkinson
  • Jon C. Cole
  • Andrew J. Goudie
  • Harry R. Sumnall
Original Investigation



Drug and alcohol users have an ‘attentional bias’ for substance-related cues, which is likely to reflect the incentive-motivational properties of those cues. Furthermore, administration of an alcohol preload increases attentional bias for alcohol and tobacco-related cues in heavy drinkers and tobacco smokers, respectively. The present study investigated attentional bias for cocaine cues in cocaine users and non-users following administration of either alcohol or placebo.


Thirty-two regular cocaine users and 40 non-users took part. Participants were administered alcohol or placebo, and administration was double blind. After drink administration, a Visual Probe task and Modified Stroop task were used to assess attentional bias. Subjective craving and alcohol outcome expectancies were also measured.


There was a significant interaction between group and drink type on the visual probe task indicating that cocaine users who had received alcohol had increased attentional bias for cocaine pictures compared to non-users and cocaine users who received placebo. The cocaine Stroop revealed no differences between cocaine users and non-users, and no effects of alcohol in either group.


Alcohol preload in regular cocaine users increases attentional bias for cocaine cues. However, cocaine users who received placebo did not show attentional bias for cocaine stimuli. Future research should investigate the effects of alcohol preload on attentional bias in cocaine-dependent individuals.


Cocaine Alcohol Attentional bias Priming 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catharine Montgomery
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matt Field
    • 3
  • Amanda M. Atkinson
    • 2
  • Jon C. Cole
    • 3
  • Andrew J. Goudie
    • 3
  • Harry R. Sumnall
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Centre for Public HealthLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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